A series of events called “Blue Skies” in Pittsburgh will cap a month-long celebration of the Greek bicentennial of the War of Independence in western Pennsylvania this week.
The Greek-American Community of Western Pennsylvania will cap the March celebrations of the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution with “Blue Skies” in Pittsburgh from March 25th-27th and two first-in-history events — albeit virtual — via its website.
Several buildings in downtown Pittsburgh will be decked out in blue, including the City-County Building, in honor of the area’s Greek-American immigrants, the Greek-American community of Pittsburgh, and the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution.
On the 27th of March, the Greek-American community, through the American Hellenic Foundation of western PA, the Greek Nationality Room Committee of the Nationality Rooms Program at the University of Pittsburgh, and the European Art Center (EUARCE) of Greece, will honor the descendants of lesser known participants of the Greek Revolution who immigrated to western Pennsylvania.
“Bridges of White and Blue” Project will uncover histories of War of Independence figures
The identities of all these less well-known heroes and participants remains a work to be initiated at a formal level even though individuals, families, and researchers, from time to time, uncover these links and present them in the form of testimonials and scholarly publications.
As concerns these unheralded participants and heroes, whose children and grandchildren immigrated to western Pennsylvania, nothing was known until recently.
“Bridges of White and Blue,” a project that began in the summer of 2020 and will continue into the future, will redress this injustice and shed light on these historical figures.
The project, which was planned as one of two keynote events for the Bicentennial celebrations in western Pennsylvania, was submitted to the “Greece 2021” Committee which granted it its formal auspice in December of 2020.
Many Greek revolution figures and descendants immigrated to Pennsylvania
The names of the War of Independence participants and their immediate descendants will be presented to their families, together with commemorative Honorary Distinctions and a commemorative coin from the “Greece 2021” collection.
Many of the identified lesser-known participants in the Revolution were from the Vlahokerasia region of Arkadia (Manthyrea) and western Pennsylvania became home to many immigrants from that region.
Other unheralded War of Independence heroes were identified in Koropi (Attica), Messinia, Aghios Petros (Kynouria), Karpenisi, Kalavryta, and the Ionian island of Ithaki.
The overarching objective of the Bridges of White and Blue Project is to use it as a means of linking those regions of Greece with western Pennsylvania to foster cultural, educational, technological and economic exchange between the wider regions identified.
London Protocols of 1827-1832 to be commemorated
The second keynote event is taking place on March 28th. The Greek community, through the American Hellenic Foundation of Western PA, the Greek Nationality Room Committee of the Nationality Rooms Program at the University of Pittsburgh, and the European Art Center (EUARCE) of Greece, will honor the French-, British-, and Russian-American communities of western Pennsylvania in commemorating the London Protocols of 1827-1832.
These acts were a series of treaties between the Three Powers at the time that guaranteed a liberated Greece and that served as the basis of the founding of the post-revolutionary, modern Greek nation.
The Philhellenism of the people of France, Great Britain, and Russia prior to, during, and following the Revolution, is unparalleled in the history of humankind.
Archbishop Elpidophoros and ambassadors will take part
For this event, the organizers invited a number of distinguished guests who will offer greetings and thoughts, including Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki, Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and the Ambassadors of the Republic of France, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, and the Hellenic Republic.
Among the distinguished guests are the Executive of Allegheny County, Richard Fitzgerald, and the Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh William Peduto, who have already issued Proclamations marking March as the month of celebration of the Bicentennial of the Greek Revolution in western Pennsylvania and honoring the immigrants from Greece and the Greek-American community.
Additional distinguished guests include the Mayor of the Municipality of Peania (Attica, Greece), and the Vice-Provost for Global Affairs and Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for International Studies.
On behalf of the Greek-American community, Honorary Distinctions will be given to the French, British, and Russian communities of western Pennsylvania, through their respective Nationality Room Committees at the University of Pittsburgh.
Poetry, music and other presentations honor Greek War of Independence
In addition, Honorary Distinctions and the Medal of Honor of the Municipality of Peania will be given to the Chanceller of the University of Pittsburgh, the Vice-Provost for Global Affairs and Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for International Studies, and the Director of the Nationality Rooms Program.
The event will also feature poems, music, and song celebrating Greece from talented performers from all four communities.
These two keynote events cap a series of earlier events that began on the 1st of March. These including the presentation of the Proclamations by County Executive Fitzgerald and Mayor Peduto, a three-part series/narrative on the Klephtiko Song, and a first-in-the US presentation of unknown correspondences between the Greek revolutionaries and the American Founding Fathers.
There was also a musical tribute to Nikolaos Mantzaros via his Partimenti, featuring a string quartet that presented these earliest known chamber music compositions of Mantzaros (who composed the music to “Ode to Liberty by Solomos).
In addition, there was a presentation by the Pulitzer-winning and New York Times best-selling author Thomas E. Ricks on “First Principles: What America’s Founders Learned from the Greeks and How that Shaped America.”
Commemorations will continue throughout 2021
A virtual exhibit on Giannis Davaris, a Revolutionary Hero at the Acropolis, and a lecture-concert presented by members of the Byzantine Choir of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh on the “Annunciation Dialogue,” the Canon poem of the Annunciation feast were shared with the public.
These seminal events were a collaboration among the American Hellenic Foundation of western Pennsylvania, the Greek Room Committee of the Nationality Rooms Program at the University of Pittsburgh and the European Art Center (EUARCE) of Greece.
Some of the these events were sponsored and made possible by the generous support of the Supreme Lodge of the Greek American Progressive Association (GAPA), the Icarian Brotherhood, and the Dept. of Philosophy of the University of Pittsburgh.
This collaboration will continue for events planned for the summer and the fall of 2021 as part of the Bicentennial commemorations and celebrations.